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Humour builds relationships: Do we share something in common? Can we laugh together? Are we at all similar? Moreover, humour regulates emotions: promotes positive ones, alleviates painful ones.

As a teenager in England, Mithu Sanyal saw comedy as a means of talking about race. Not to laugh at those affected by racism but at the absurdity of the concept of “race”. Sanyal’s novel Identitti, published this spring, uses wit and humour to build a comprehensive self-empowerment when speaking about racism, identity politics and coloniality. At the kick-off event of Counterquestions, Mithu Sanyal suggests that as a society, we would do well to laugh at ourselves if we want to change.

Over in Glasgow, Scotland, a teenage Amna Saleem was similarly developing her own comedic take on the world. At first, her sense of humour was formed as a self defense mechanism as she navigated her dual cultures during an unforgiving post 9/11 culture. Lucky for her, this innate desire for self preservation later evolved into a successful career as an adult. Although, Amna Saleem‘s complicated feelings surrounding race and politics discreetly inform much of her work, it is her ability to make people laugh that she prioritises above all. She firmly believes comedy to be the trojan horse that allows us to truly progress as a society.

Welcome address
Hartmut Dorgerloh, Director of the Humboldt Forum

Melinda Crane & Geraldine de Bastion



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